The National Park Foundation was born from a profound legacy that predates the very idea of a “national park.” Long before the creation of the National Park Service, private citizens understood the critical need to band together to preserve unique places from encroaching threats. From their passion – their successes in setting aside land to ultimately be protected – they mobilized a revolutionary idea that would resonate for decades to come.
They set forth the groundwork for the modern conservation movement and the model for public-private partnerships.
Throughout its history, the National Park Service has relied on private philanthropy to supplement funds appropriated by Congress to support everything from land acquisition, park planning, interpretation, and program implementation. Prior to the National Park Foundation’s existence, this support largely happened on a park-by-park basis.
Philanthropic park partners had largely carried the responsibility of raising private funds for individual parks, often predating the establishment of the park itself – groups like Appalachian Trail Conservancy (formerly the Appalachian Trail Conference) and St. Croix River Association. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that the government recognized the necessity for an efficient national entity to extend this support to the broader National Park System.
Since our inception 50 years ago, the National Park Foundation has tirelessly worked alongside our partners to protect these places of tremendous beauty and rich history.
To help address this pressing need, Congress passed legislation in 1967 to create the National Park Foundation as the official national partner of the National Park Service.
Since our inception 50 years ago, the National Park Foundation has tirelessly worked alongside our partners to protect these places of tremendous beauty and rich history; to connect new audiences to all that parks offer, engaging them through meaningful programs to deepen a life-long love of national parks.
It’s more than a mission – it’s a calling.
One conviction has carried us through our 50-year history, and it is the belief that the individuals who champion the causes in parks, programs, philanthropic partners, corporations, and foundations all make our work possible. Through each of our milestones, each of our triumphs, we have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a remarkable community of park lovers, strengthened by our collaboration and motivated by our desire to preserve over 400 national parks for future generations.
And that’s something worth celebrating.
As we celebrate the National Park Foundation’s 50 years of innovative projects, programs, grants, and partnerships, we invite you to join us in sharing why you choose to stand with us by using #WeAreParks!
Thank you to all who have made our work possible and thank you to those who inspire us to continue our work in the next 50 years – we are stronger because of you!
Rocío Lower is the Senior Communications Manager at the National Park Foundation.
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